[size=16pt]Six armed raiders on high powered motorbikes staged this daring raid on a jewellery store inside Brent Cross shopping centre today.[/size]
Police said the men - on three high powered motorcycles - roared into the centre at 10.30am scattering shoppers in terror.
Three pillion riders with axes and bats smashed their way into the Fraser Hart jewellery store scooping up tens of thousands of pounds worth of watches.
The other riders waited with their engines running as the raid took place.
Witnesses said the robbery could have been a scene straight from the James Bond Skyfall film or the film The Italian Job.
The gang struck just after the shopping centre opened when it was already crowded with shoppers.
There were no injuries but one elderly man was treated for shock at the scene.
Photographer Rick Treister was on his way to the Apple store in Brent Cross when he heard the sound of screaming and breaking glass.
Seconds later the three bikes came roaring towards him past Clarks shoe store.
He said : “I did not have time to be frightened, the whole thing did not seem real.
“It was like the James Bond film, you could not believe something like this was happening inside Brent Cross.
“I just grabbed my camera phone and managed to get one picture. The guy on the front bike shouted something at me when he went past.
“The whole place was going mad. The women in John Lewis were screaming and the man in the jewellery store ran out after the robbers shouting “You bastards!””
“Watches were just dropping off the motorbikes as they went. They accelerated away and I don’t know where they went after that.”
A section of Brent Cross was evacuated and closed while police investigated the incident.
Many shops pulled down their shutters after the raid.
Eyewitness Claire Smalley, 27, manager of a shop opposite Fraser Hart, said: “It was really frightening. We heard engines revving I looked out and there were six guys, two on each motorbike.
"They smashed the window with an axe like the ones you use for chopping down trees. They only grabbed Rolexes and Cartier watches as far as I could see. I have to protect my staff so I pulled down our shutters, it was pretty terrifying.”
Cleaner Peter Porter said: “It was like something out of the Italian Job only instead of Minis they had motorbikes. They had helmets on with visors down. Security waved to them to stop but they just waved the axe in the air and carried on.”
Scotland Yard said the robbers were dressed in dark clothing and wearing crash helmets with the visors pulled down.
The motorcycles - believed to be stolen - were later found abandoned on Ashley Road in Mill Hill which overlooks a golf course.
Police appealed for anyone who saw the robbers dumping the bikes to contact them.
A spokesman said they were called to reports of a robbery inside the shopping centre at 10.30am.
He said : “Four people on three motorbikes armed with what appear to be axes and bats entered the premises and made off with a quantity of watches and jewellery. No firearms were seen.”
A spokesman for Brent Cross said: "We can confirm that there was an incident at around 10.15 this morning when there was an attempted robbery on a store at Brent Cross.
"The police cordoned off a section of the centre to investigate the incident.
"We are assisting them with their inquiries
"A small area is closed off to the public and Brent Cross staff are directing customers to use an alternative entrance.
"The majority of stores remain open as normal.
"The incident is being deal with by the Met's flying squad."
The raid is the latest in a series of smash and grab motorcycle robberies that have plagued London’s West End and shopping centres.
In the past raiders have struck at Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush and in the City but none have matched the drama of today’s raid.
Many robbers were arrested and jailed after police mounted undercover surveillance operations against the smash and grab gangs.